The CIA Broke The Law

December 8, 2007 at 12:34 am | Posted in American politics, CIA, Torture | 2 Comments

the story continues:

White House and Justice Department officials, along with senior members of Congress, advised the Central Intelligence Agency in 2003 against a plan to destroy hundreds of hours of videotapes showing the interrogations of two operatives of Al Qaeda, government officials said Friday.

The chief of the agency’s clandestine service nevertheless ordered their destruction in November 2005, taking the step without notifying even the C.I.A.’s own top lawyer, John A. Rizzo, who was angry at the decision, the officials said.

The disclosures provide new details about what Gen. Michael V. Hayden, the C.I.A. director, has said was a decision “made within C.I.A. itself” to destroy the videotapes. In interviews, members of Congress and former intelligence officials also questioned some aspects of the account General Hayden provided Thursday about when Congress was notified that the tapes had been destroyed.

Can you see it? Everybody is in a CYA (cover your ass) mode. One man is made the fall guy. Meanwhile, the Agency will survive this crime, the White House (who ordered the torture) will emerge unscathed, because the damning videos are destroyed, and Congressional leaders like Hoekstra and Rockefeller, who KNEW of this, wash their hands and say, “I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!”

Marty Lederman writes that in this particular case, the CIA made a rational choice. In this case, the crime was truly worse than the cover-up.

After all, haven’t they learned from the experience of the past 35 years that it’s not the crime but the cover-up that’ll get you?

Yes, they have. Let’s not lose sight of the big picture. This was not something they did on the spur of the moment. They vetted it with Rockefeller and Harman, for goodness’ sake, and then destroyed the tapes after Harman urged them not to do so. And right after Judge Brinkema’s orders started hitting close to home and Dana Priest broke the black sites story. [Check out this great timeline from emptywheel — pay close attention to all that’s going on in October/November 2005.] I retract what I said earlier: This was the CIA. They must have gotten DOJ approval (Gonzales, anyway) for the destruction. And the POTUS and/or VP, too. And all of these folks they knew full well what the fallout might be. And they knew about criminal laws involving obstruction. Most importantly, they were actually destroying what might be incredibly valuable evidence for future uses — valuable for criminal trials, for intelligence investigations, for training purposes, and, most importantly, as a key tile in their vaunted, hallowed “mosaic” of evidence developed to construct an accurate story about al Qaeda.

And yet they chose to destroy anyway, after what must have been a lot of internal debate. Which goes to show that . . . the cover-up is not worse than the crime, and they knew it. Those tapes must have depicted pretty gruesome evidence of serious criminal conduct. Conduct that would be proof positive of serious breaches of at least two treaties. Conduct approved and implemented at the highest levels of government.

Remember, this was late 2005. By this point, they all knew damn well that “the Commander in Chief has the constitutional authority to violate the Torture Act and the Geneva Conventions” would not be viewed as a very compelling defense. Worse yet, their other defense would have been: “A 35-year-old deputy assistant attorney general by the name of John Yoo orally advised me that this was legal.”

Obstruction of justice, and the scandal we’re about to witness, was a price they concluded was well worth paying.

The biggest question I have is why is this being released NOW to the public? My own answer is that the CIA again made a rational decision. They concluded that a Democrat was going to win next year, no matter what. That Democratic administration was going to poke around the CIA’s activities, and the CIA felt they would survive easier if they released this on their own terms. They will weather this storm. They’re not going down because of this. After all, the cover-up succeeded in destroying apparently a pretty awful crime.

We never should have lowered our standards as a nation to allow torture. What a complete shame for our generation!

The CIA Destroyed Evidence of Torture!

December 6, 2007 at 6:25 pm | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, Cheney, CIA, conservatives, corruption, George W Bush, secret combinations, Torture | Leave a comment

Well, there you go, ladies and gentlemen. When facing scrutiny over its torture program, the CIA protected itself by destroying evidence.

The Central Intelligence Agency in 2005 destroyed at least two videotapes documenting the interrogation of two Al Qaeda operatives in the agency’s custody, a step it took in the midst of Congressional and legal scrutiny about the C.I.A’s secret detention program, according to current and former government officials.

The videotapes showed agency operatives in 2002 subjecting terror suspects — including Abu Zubaydah, the first detainee in C.I.A. custody — to severe interrogation techniques. They were destroyed in part because officers were concerned that tapes documenting controversial interrogation methods could expose agency officials to greater risk of legal jeopardy, several officials said.

They broke the law. They knew it. They destroyed the evidence that would prosecute them.

The C.I.A. said today that the decision to destroy the tapes had been made “within the C.I.A. itself,” and they were destroyed to protect the safety of undercover officers and because they no longer had intelligence value. The agency was headed at the time by Porter J. Goss. Through a spokeswoman, Mr. Goss declined this afternoon to comment on the destruction of the tapes.

And we can trust the CIA to tell us the truth. Porter Goss, that’s Bush’s man.

It was not clear who within the C.I.A. authorized the destruction of the tapes, but current and former government officials said it had been approved at the highest levels of the agency.

That would be Porter Goss, Bush’s man.

The recordings were not provided to a federal court hearing the case of the terror suspect Zacarias Moussaoui or to the Sept. 11 commission, which had made formal requests to the C.I.A. for transcripts and any other documentary evidence taken from interrogations of agency prisoners.

C.I.A. lawyers told federal prosecutors in 2003 and 2005, who relayed the information to a federal court in the Moussaoui case, that the C.I.A. did not possess recordings of interrogations sought by the judge in the case. It was unclear whether the judge had explicitly sought the videotape depicting the interrogation of Mr. Zubaydah.

Mr. Moussaoui’s lawyers had hoped that records of the interrogations might provide exculpatory evidence for Mr. Moussaoui — showing that the Al Qaeda detainees did not know Mr. Moussaoui and clearing him of involvement in the Sept. 11, 2001, plot.

They obstructed justice. Is anyone surprised?

General Hayden’s statement said that the tapes posed a “serious security risk,” and that if they were to become public they would have exposed C.I.A. officials “and their families to retaliation from Al Qaeda and its sympathizers.”

“What matters here is that it was done in line with the law,” he said. He said in his statement that he was informing agency employees because “the press has learned” about the destruction of the tapes.

General Hayden, protecting his own. Not a follower of the law. And Mr. General, they would not have been exposed to retaliation from Al-Qaeda and its sympathizers, unless you are calling the long arm of the law Al-Qaeda.

Staff members of the Sept. 11 commission, which completed its work in 2004, expressed surprise when they were told that interrogation videotapes existed until 2005.

“The commission did formally request material of this kind from all relevant agencies, and the commission was assured that we had received all the material responsive to our request,” said Philip D. Zelikow, who served as executive director of the Sept. 11 commission and later as a senior counselor to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Makes one wonder what else is hiding in that cavernous CIA headquarters that they might not want the public to know…

Daniel Marcus, a law professor at American University who served as general counsel for the Sept. 11 commission and was involved in the discussions about interviews with Al Qaeda leaders, said he had heard nothing about any tapes being destroyed.

If tapes were destroyed, he said, “it’s a big deal, it’s a very big deal,” because it could amount to obstruction of justice to withhold evidence being sought in criminal or fact-finding investigations.

Indeed, and a worthy nominee for understatement of the year.

General Hayden said the tapes were originally made to ensure that agency employees acted in accordance with “established legal and policy guidelines.” General Hayden said the agency stopped videotaping interrogations in 2002.

Guess they realized that the more they videotaped themselves torturing suspects, the more evidence there would be later on for prosecution. Can’t have that now, can we.

A former intelligence official who was briefed on the issue said the videotaping was ordered as a way of assuring “quality control” at remote sites following reports of unauthorized interrogation techniques. He said the tapes, along with still photographs of interrogations, were destroyed after photographs of abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib became public in May 2004 and C.I.A. officers became concerned about a possible leak of the videos and photos.

Huh, like Abu Ghraib…that was bad and all. Imagine how nasty it would be to see the videos of the torture the CIA did. I’m sure the backlash around the world would be…intense.

It has been widely reported that Mr. Zubaydah was subjected to several tough physical tactics, including waterboarding, which involves near-suffocation. But C.I.A. officers judged that the release of photos or videos would nonetheless provoke a strong reaction.

“People know what happened, but to see it in living color would have far greater power,” the official said.

Um, that’s generally WHY you don’t torture. But some people, see, lost their sense of morals and reason when terrorists hit us on 9/11.

Mr. Holt said he had been told many times that the C.I.A. does not record the interrogation of detainees. “When I would ask them whether they had reviewed the tapes to better understand the intelligence, they said ‘What tapes?’,” he said.

Lawbreakers. Torturers. This is what America has become.

Why Mike Huckabee Cannot Be The Next President

December 5, 2007 at 12:13 pm | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, George W Bush, Mike Huckabee, Republicans | 9 Comments

Man, all these Republican candidates really have some reprehensible beliefs/pasts/actions that just make them, well, reprehensible. Mike Huckabee is apparently no exception.

The basic gist of the story is this. Mike Huckabee was governor of Arkansas in 1996. A distant relative of Bill Clinton and the daughter of a major Democratic campaign contributor was raped by Wayne Dumond. He was tried and convicted. Conservatives went ballistic to have this man released. Mike Huckabee pardoned the rapist.

Within a year of being freed, Dumond traveled to Missouri, where he raped and killed another young woman, and was the lead suspect in another rape and murder case.

This is reprehensible. Yet another strike against compassionate conservatism. Yet another strike against conservative Christianism. Do these guys realize how much they shoot Christianity in the foot? Do they realize how much they make Christianity look barbaric and, well, UN-Christlike?

Republicans today have it really tough. The only candidate that even has any morals or principles he has consistently kept is Ron Paul. But he will ruin the country with his policies. It really is very sad what George Bush has done to this party.

Bush Lied About Iran

December 4, 2007 at 10:32 am | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, Cheney, corruption, Foreign Policy, George W Bush, Iran | 15 Comments

George W. Bush has, for the last several years, lied to America about Iran’s WMD program. What is worse is that he knew he was lying. He had the NIE assessment in his hand for the past year telling him that Iran’s nuclear weapons program has been dormant since 2003. But over the past year, his, and Cheney’s and their supporters’ rhetoric, has been increasingly more virulent and violent toward Iran (who can forget John McCain’s “bomb bomb bomb Iran” moment a few months back).

This is an impeachable offense (among all the rest). President Bush knew that Iran’s nuclear program was dormant. But he pressed on as if preparing his nation to war with Iran. How is this not an impeachable offense? He played politics with national security, everybody. Has it come to such a point that we merely yawn “more of the same” every time we get this kind of news? Are we past feeling so that we’re no longer shocked when we hear such bad things? Have expectations been so lowered that we’re fine with letting Bush and Cheney still be in office even after this evidence?

Iran welcomes this news, of course, and says that America must “pay a price” for all the virulent and baseless rhetoric against its people. It is very understandable. We’ve been threatening Iranians with death over something that did not exist. We would feel the same way were say, the Chinese, to do the same to us.

It is time to prepare impeachment hearings and remove Bush and Cheney from power.

I Can’t Stand Western Hypocritical Policies

December 1, 2007 at 5:49 pm | Posted in Foreign Policy, Malawi | 2 Comments

The United States and Europe subsidize farm fertilizers. They tell other countries not to subsidize their fertilizing companies, to detrimental results. I can’t tell you how much I hate this kind of hypocritical policy. You want to know why it is such a bad policy? Because it protects the rich and makes the poor RELY ON the rich to keep going. Rich countries continue protecting their farmers while poor countries must rely on the rich countries for aide. It is a fascinating display of the lust for control that power and domination has on even the best of intentions.

Malawi decided to not listen to the West, but rather follow the West’s own polices, subsidizing their farm fertilizers. And guess what, it worked! Good for them.

A Sham and a Shame to Our Nation

December 1, 2007 at 7:01 am | Posted in Gitmo, Law, Torture | 1 Comment

So one trial of a Guantanamo Bay Camp X-ray detainee is about to go forward. But look at what a sham it is, and in the end, a shame to our nation and to the rule of law. Tyranny now rules here.

Defense lawyers preparing for the war crimes trial of a 21-year-old Guantánamo detainee have been ordered by a military judge not to tell their client — or anyone else — the identity of witnesses against him, newly released documents show.

The case of the detainee, Omar Ahmed Khadr, is being closely watched because it may be the first Guantánamo prosecution to go to trial, perhaps as soon as May.

Defense lawyers say military prosecutors have sought similar orders to keep the names of witnesses secret in other military commission cases, which have been a centerpiece of the Bush administration’s policies for detainees at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

Some legal experts and defense lawyers said the judge’s order, issued on Oct. 15 without public disclosure, underscored the gap between military commission procedures and traditional American rules that the accused has a right to a public trial and to confront the witnesses against him.

Defense lawyers say the order would hamper their ability to build an adequate defense because they cannot ask their client or anyone else about prosecution witnesses, making it difficult to test the veracity of testimony.

One of the centerpieces of the rule of law is the right to confront the witness against you, to challenge the witness. After all, if the witness is lying, then the whole case against you is false. How can we possibly believe that this, and other like cases, can be trusted to protect the innocent? Or do some Americans really believe that NO ONE in Guantanamo is innocent? If that is the case, why do we even have them there? Why not just execute them and stop pretending?

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